Published on July 10th, 2011 | by Tassavur Shaikh0
GAIA, A One Billion Pixel Camera By European Space Agency
Construction of the largest ever digital camera at one billion pixels for a space mission by the European Space Agency is now complete and it’s called the GAIA. And the name indeed reminds one of Mother Earth of Captain Planet, as rightly pointed out by folks at Engadget
GAIA has been created for a monstrous ambition of mapping one billion stars in our very own galaxy the Milky Way, that too in 3D (Looks like 3D is in demand out of space as well). Now coming back to the camera; it has been created by e2v Technologies in collaboration with the ESA. The camera contains 106 snugly-fit charge coupled devices. These devices are the shape of a credit card and ultra thin too, human hair thick to be precise and are made of silicon carbide (yes it’s the same compound used in bullet proof vests as well).
Each of the silicon carbide slab stores the incoming light as a single pixel and is highly sensitive with an unusually long range. By long we mean that GAIA can measure the thumbnails of a person on the moon from the earth itself. Now that’s some range. Isn’t it?
Well it’s set to launch on its space mission on board the Soyuz-Fregat apparently this year. The celestial photographer will float in the Earth-Sun L2 Lagrange point for about five years and send all of its feed to the antennas in Spain and Australia.
Just in case you are wondering about the largest camera built on planet earth. It’s of 1.4 billion pixels and currently lies in a space observatory installed on the PS1 telescope in Maui, Hawaii, US to detect any asteroids coming our way from a fair distance. We hope you can imagine the distance by now;)